Consultant suggests eliminating 3 Gulfport fire stations - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Consultant suggests eliminating 3 Gulfport fire stations

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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

It took about a month to complete the report, but A Michigan based consultant believes he has a recipe for success for the City of Gulfport.

Downsizing, restructuring and re-organizing. Those are just a few of the ways consultant Mark Nottley, believes the City of Gulfport could solve many of its financial woes.

"The city has to stay within its means. Certainly times are difficult for all municipalities, in Gulfport in particular. The City has to find means of providing those key services, particularly police and fire services, within budget parameters," Nottley said.

To do that, the consultant based out of Ann Arbor Michigan says some difficult decisions have to be made. One of the main issues he pushed was eliminating certain positions without impacting city services. In his 162 page report, Nottley outlines what he called a significant amount of cost savings in the city's future.

For the Police Department, he recommended eliminating four positions.Two within District two, the others on the Deputy Commander level.

He also suggested closing Fire Station Four on Railroad Street and eventually closing both Fire Stations Three and Eight as well. 

The report then calls for replacing them with newly rebuilt and relocated Fire Station 12. The report found that every time a fire station was opened, it required nine to 10 firefighters to operate, plus the cost of maintenance and other costs such as fire pumps.

The Consultant provided research that showed mini pumpers that cost much less, but are just as effective for firefighters.

Nottley made it clear that he wanted to preserve the workforce, however he said the city is spending far beyond its means.

"The key here with the report is identifying methods that will keep the same number of police officers in the street and assure that the firefighters respond just as quickly to an emergency," Nottley said.

According to Nottley, the report measured response times based on standards by the National Fire Protection Association. Though the Council was receptive to his presentation, not all of them agree with his suggestions. 

No kind of action was taken at the meeting. It was merely an opportunity for the consultant to present his suggestions.

From here the council has charged leaders and personnel with both the police department and fire department to come up with some sort of master plan.

Gulfport Fire Chief Michael Beyerstedt says he hopes to present his master plan at the council's first meeting in January.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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